REVIEW: The Newsroom — Season 1 Episode 9 — “The Blackout, Part 2: Mock Debate”

At last, the eagerly anticipated conclusion to last week’s episode! (And by “eagerly anticipated,” I mean not. At all.) Let’s see if our intrepid crew will continue to be forced to report the news in ways they don’t like, and if I will magically start to care…

 

—   Quick recap: A) Will’s hired Mac’s ex to write a story about the show. B) the network is pressuring the show to report more tragedy porn, and they’re going along with it because they want to be able to do a mock debate later and they need to be in good standing with the network or they might not get the chance. C) Charlie has a Secret Contact at the NSA who says the world is ending because the government has too much power. D) Anthony Wiener scandal is in full swing (no pun intended). E) Before they had a chance to tape a tragedy porn show, the power went out, hence “blackout.”

—   Power is still out.

—   Mac is being sappy and speechy about how this was GOD’S PLAN because he doesn’t want them to report on Casey Anthony and Anthony Wiener, and getting all crazed and excited about making the show with a desk and a couple of microphones and BEING A TEAM AGAIN, and then the power goes back on. Boo hoo.

—   Jim says to the crew during taping, “hey, you don’t have to watch this,” but obviously everybody WANTS to watch it. It’s like what they say about gossip: it’s something nobody claims to like, but everybody enjoys.

—   Sloan is still upset about the tabloid stories taking time away from her reporting on the biggest economic crisis of her lifetime, even though I still don’t have a handle on what that is, and since it already happened and the world seems to still be functioning, I don’t really care.

—   Neal still wants to do that story on internet trolls, because that’s somehow more newsworthy than tragedy porn, and asks Sloan’s permission to slander her online in order to build his troll credibility. She says yes, because she thinks it’s a good story too, wonder of wonders.

—    Convo between Mac and Brian-the-reporter-ex about Will being lonely. Don’t care. If he is, he deserves it because he did it to himself.

—   Will has flowers in his office, Mac pays them entirely too much attention. Yawn.

—   Mock debate practice. I’m failing to see why anyone other than SNL would think this is a good idea.

—   Jim’s ex-girlfriend and Maggie’s roommate Lisa, a fictional character, was magically Casey Anthony’s classmate in high school. I’m sure her insights would be super informative, seeing as she’s FICTIONAL. This is totes realistic. Ugh, I wish the show would just make up everything instead of shoe-horning fictional people into real world situations. That’s why The West Wing worked better.

—   Maggie and Jim are harassing Lisa at her workplace. Classy. Jim pulls the “we have no choice this is super important” card and Lisa finally gives in.

—   Jim awkwardly tries to ask Lisa out again. Stop it, Jim. She’s way too good for you.

—   Don dates around when he and Maggie break up, but doesn’t tell any of the women about the existence of the other. Don, I hate guys like you. Go away.

—   Cut to Will in his therapist’s office. Yay David Krumholtz! I don’t care about Will or his issues with betrayal but YAY DAVID KRUMHOLTZ.

—   Yes, Will, you are right, blaming the cheat-ee instead of the cheater is not the right way to go. But the show is making it sound like it is. Stupid show.

—   Will can’t understand why he can’t seem to forgive Mac for cheating on him. Therapist Krumholtz says it was because it was betrayal, and Will is super sensitive to betrayal.

—   Neal tells Sloan all the various ways he slandered her while trolling economics threads, and she’s glad someone is working on new stories. THIS IS NOT NEWS, SLOAN. Maybe it is to Sorkin because he’s kind of new at the internet thing, but this is tiny and unimportant and silly.

—   Jim’s research on Secret Contact Dude turns up sordid stuff about the guy, hurting his credibility.

—   Maggie and Mac agree that it doesn’t matter what Lisa says on the air as long as she actually shows up, so they’re gonna ask really lame questions.

—   SO PROUD of Lisa for continuing to reject Jim. Guy did not want you, he doesn’t deserve you, keep him in his place. You rock, girl.

—   Uh oh, Lisa’s on the air speaking out for the reasonableness of abortion in cases when the mother doesn’t want the child and can’t raise it. Apparently people are super sensitive about this and everyone is covering their faces in horror.

—   Someone threw a brick through her shop window. Would that really happen in New York? Down south, sure. But we’re pretty liberal here, right? I’m not gonna question it. Could totally happen in some neighborhoods, I suppose.

—   Showcase of the Mock Debate format. Seems all right, although I’d think a real debate with the actual candidates would be more accurate.

—   The boss guy doesn’t seem happy with it, though…

—   He thinks the format is just embarrassing to the candidates and refuses to allow it. All that tragedy porn coverage for nothing.

—   Oooh, now he says he wants the old Will MacAvoy, not the guy Mac turned him into. That’s gonna push some buttons.

—   Will apologizes to everyone for losing the debate.

—   Mac defends Will to Brian-the-reporter-ex by saying he’s better than Brian because he’s never sure about anything, he STRUGGLES with things, and then slapstick humor Will-can’t-put-on-pants joke comes to back her up. But no, Mac, Will is just as obnoxiously self-assured and self-righteous as Brian is. Maybe he has a few things he doubts, but I would never say he’s not sure about ANYTHING.

—   Mac is turning into a hysteric. Again. Ugh.

—   They’re finally doing the show how they want — ignoring the big attention-grabbing stories and leading with Sloan and the Debt Ceiling. Wonder if we’ll actually get to see her explain it.

—   Neal hasn’t gotten troll credibility. Sloan jokingly says, “too bad you’re not the guy who left the death threat for Will,” and now we know what Neal’s next move is gonna be.

—   Mac looks out at everyone and sees they’re all happy and getting along. This is making her sad for some reason?

—   And now she’s giving Jim horrible advice about refusing to move on and instead going after people who’ve rejected him.

—   Jim shows up at Lisa and Maggie’s apartment. I think we’re supposed to think he’s going to ask Lisa again, but I bet he asks Maggie, right there in front of Don.

—   And Lisa answers the door and Jim clearly wants to talk to Maggie, but Lisa — NO NO STOP IT LISA YOU WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG DON’T GIVE IN NOW — thinks he’s there for her and has decided to say yes, and kisses him and leads him out even though GAH he obviously doesn’t want that anymore.

—   Don is the only one with half a brain in this scene who realizes Jim wanted Maggie. And now he’s going to come clean about the other women and hopefully they’ll break up for good.

—   Neal is pretending to be the hacker who posted Will’s death threat, and one of the other trolls says it wasn’t Neal because it was HIM. Saw that coming a mile away.

—   And Will is on relationship advice websites reading about trust while melancholy music plays.

 

 

Final Thoughts:

 

I have very little to say about this episode that isn’t in the above live-blog. The episode just doesn’t come together as a unit. Sure, there’s a linear storyline involving the compromising of values in order to get the debate, and ultimately not getting the debate, and going back to reporting the news the way they want to. And there are little B plots and C plots about trolls and the Secret Contact.

But then there’s all the non-plot stuff, the relationship drama, which could really be happening in any episode, regardless of the plot, because there is nothing particularly plot-related about the development of these love triangles. And there is no unifying theme between any of the disparate events of the story. It just feels like a bunch of random stuff that happens to be happening to these same people. Say what you may about cheesy Grey’s Anatomy voiceovers — at least they manage to pull everything together and make you feel like you watched a well-constructed whole instead of just a mess.

And of course, having another Mackenzie freakout does nothing to help the cause. And nope, we didn’t get to see Sloan explain about the debt ceiling. Why am I not surprised.

 

Rating: 2.5/5

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